updated 12/22/2006 6:03:04 AM ET 2006-12-22T11:03:04

A carry-on bomb could flood portions of commuter train tunnels between New York and New Jersey in a matter of hours, The New York Times reported.

The newspaper said that was the worst-case scenario in a draft of a new analysis that suggests the PATH rail system is more vulnerable than had been thought.

About 230,000 people use the PATH system each weekday.

A government official gave the newspaper a draft summary of the analysis, The Times said. Characterized as preliminary and continuing, it was based on work by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

The draft analysis showed that the PATH system’s four tunnels, which run between New York City and New Jersey, are structurally more fragile than first thought. It suggests that a bomb small enough to be carried on a train could blow big enough holes to allow 1.2 million gallons of water per minute to gush into a tunnel, flooding parts of the system within hours, the newspaper said.

A spokesman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs the PATH system, defended its safety.

“If we believed in any way that passengers were in danger, we’d close the system,” spokesman Marc La Vorgna said. “That would happen immediately.”

Security increased
He would not answer specific questions about the analysis, according to the newspaper. But he said Port Authority police recently increased patrols and bag searches in the PATH system, and the agency’s board voted last week to spend $180 million to boost security on the rail line.

Aides to New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine and New York Gov. George E. Pataki would not say whether the governors had seen the new analysis, the newspaper said. A spokesman for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would not comment on it.

A spokesman for the federal Department of Homeland Security said he was unable to determine whether the agency had been notified of it.

Concerns have long been raised about potential terrorist attacks on tunnels connecting to New York City. In July, authorities said they had thwarted a suicide-bomb plot involving the PATH tunnels.

The new analysis was based on both computer models and physical tests on cast iron from the tunnels.

It describes several steps to lessen the effect of any explosions, including installing floodgates and fortifying critical parts of the tunnels, according to The Times.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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